+ Helen Kafka was born in Brno, Moravia (the modern-day Czech Republic) but her family moved to Vienna when she was a child.
+ As a young woman she worked as an unskilled assistant in a new hospital run by the Sisters of Christian Charity; she entered the community in 1915, receiving the religious name Maria Restituta.
+ In time, Sister Restituta became a skilled nurse and was soon highly esteemed for her work as an anesthetist. After a heavy day’s work, she would go to a local hostelry and order “a goulash and a pint of my usual”—her favorite beer.
+ After the Anschluss of 1938, the Nazi officials ordered that all religious images be removed from the hospital. When possible Sister Restituta made sure that dying patients received the last rites of the Church.
+ Sister Restituta was arrested on Ash Wednesday 1942 for the “crime” of putting crucifixes in the hospital rooms. Imprisoned for more than a year, she gave her rations to prisoners who were starving and it is said that she saved the life of a pregnant woman and her baby.
+ Blessed Maria Restituta Kafka was beheaded on March 30, 1943, and was the only nun in the German territories to be killed in this way. Her body was thrown into a mass grave
+ At her beatification in 1988, a small piece of her habit, instead of the customary relics, was presented to Pope Saint John Paul II—it was all that could be found of her earthly remains.
In 1995 the street on which Blessed Restituta’s hospital is located was renamed in her honor: “Sister Restituta Street,” so all babies born in the hospital have her name on their birth certificates.
“I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ.”—Blessed Restituta Kafka’s last recorded words
O God, who gladden us today with the annual commemoration of blessed Restituta, graciously grant that we may be helped by her merits, just as our lives are lit up by the splendor of her example of chastity and fortitude. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Virgin-Martyr)